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State v. Verdinez

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 25, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RAMONA MAE VERDINEZ, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Marshall County, John J. Haney, Judge.

         A defendant appeals her conviction for second-degree theft. AFFIRMED.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Nan Jennisch, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Thomas J. Ogden, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Potterfield and Mullins, JJ.

          VOGEL, PRESIDING JUDGE

         Ramona Verdinez was convicted of second-degree burglary, second-degree theft, and using a juvenile to commit certain offenses. Her argument on appeal is limited to her assertion there is insufficient evidence she committed second-degree theft under the theory of joint criminal conduct. We conclude there is substantial evidence Verdinez committed burglary as an aider and abettor, and, therefore, the flawed joint criminal conduct instruction does not require reversal.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         From the evidence presented at trial, the jury could have found the following: On July 13, 2016, Verdinez drove a juvenile, P.S., to a rural property near Marshalltown, arriving at the property at approximately 12:30 a.m. Verdinez had equipped P.S. with two backpacks, gloves, and a flashlight; P.S. was armed with her own two pocket knives "for [her] protection" and a flashlight. Verdinez instructed P.S. to knock on the front door but to enter through a nearby window if the door was locked. She agreed they would split whatever property P.S. could find and promised to stay in the car to provide a lookout.

         P.S. entered through the window and initially believed the house was vacant, as Verdinez had told her. However, before entering, she had seen a light in an upstairs window, and after entering, she noticed laundry, dishes in the sink, and other indications someone was living in the house. She decided she would "go hard" and quickly took a computer and office supplies to the car where Verdinez was waiting. Verdinez told her to put the items in the back seat and to re-enter the home to look for a vacuum cleaner. P.S. re-entered and took two computer mice, an assortment of jewelry, shoes, and a pack of cigarettes.

         Before she could leave the house, officers responded to a 911 call placed by the home's occupant from an upstairs bedroom. They found Verdinez in the driver's seat of the car and P.S. still inside the house. The officers found the computer in the backseat of the car, and P.S.'s pockets were full with the small items she had taken.

         On July 22, 2016, the county attorney charged Verdinez with first-degree burglary, in violation of Iowa Code section 713.3 (2016); second-degree theft, in violation of Iowa Code section 714.2(2); and using a juvenile to commit certain offenses, in violation of Iowa Code section 709A.6; and alleged the habitual offender sentencing enhancement was applicable to Verdinez, pursuant to Iowa Code section 902.8. After a jury trial, Verdinez was found guilty of second-degree burglary, second-degree theft, using a juvenile to commit certain offenses, and of being a habitual offender.

         On October 14, 2016, the district court sentenced Verdinez to three terms of fifteen years in prison, with two terms running concurrently and the third running consecutively to the other two terms. The sentences were suspended, and Verdinez was placed under the ...


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